Missing Air Algerie flight found in the Sahara desert with no survivors

The wreckage of the the MD-83 aircraft was located by a column of French  troops in northern Mali yesterday

Paris

Seven members of one French family are believed to be among the 118 victims of an Air Algerie flight which crashed for reasons unknown in the Sahara desert on Thursday.

The passengers also included ten members and three generations of another extended French family.

The wreckage of the the MD-83 aircraft, owned by Spanish company Swiftair, was located by a column of French troops in northern Mali yesterday. One of the two black box flight recorders was recovered.

“There are, alas, no survivors,” President François Hollande said. “I share the pain of families living through this terrible ordeal.”

Almost half the 112 passengers on the flight from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers were French citizens. Although senior French officials have not ruled out the possibility that the crash was caused by a bomb or a missile fired from the ground, severe storms are believed to be the most likely cause of the accident.

Seven members of a French family of Bukina Faso origin – a father and mother and five children aged from 20 to 7 – are said to have been aboard the plane. There were another 44 French passengers among the 118 people aboard (a revision of the original estimate of 116).

The other victims included six Spanish crew members,   24 people from Burkina Faso, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourgers. There was one passenger each from Belgium, Cameroun, Egypt, Malia, Romania and Switzerland and three passengers whose nationality has yet to be established.

The aircraft vanished from radar screens in the early hours of Thursday morning 50 minutes into a four hour flight from Ouagadougo to Algiers. The pilots had asked air traffic control to change their route to avoid severe storms climbing to 50,000 feet above the desert.

The region where the crash happened is in a  thinly populated area   close to the scene of a continuing rebellion by Islamist and Tuareg militants against the Malian government. French forces have been operating in the area for more than 18 months.

Sixty French, 40 Dutch and 20 Malian soldiers from an international peace-keeping force were on their way to the crash scene yesterday. The French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the accident happened 50 kilometres – and six hour by desert track – from the small town of Gossi, which was itself 150 kilometres from the regional capital, Gao. “As you will appreciate, this is going to be a very lengthy operation,” he said.

Earlier, President Hollande said: “There are hypotheses, notably weather-related but we don't rule out anything because we want to know what happened.”

A team from France's Accident Investigation Bureau, backed by gendarmes, has been sent to Mali. Air France planes have been ordered to avoid the area as a precaution until it is proved that a ground-to-air missile was not responsible.

The crash was the third air disaster within a week, including a Malaysia Airlines flight which is believed to have been shot down over eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists last Friday.

French media reports said that the 51 French passengers were a mixture of French citizens of Burkina Faso origin and French aid workers and businessmen based in the former French colony. The Air Algerie night flight, with connections in Algiers to several French and European citizen, was a popular, cheap option for people returning to Europe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map